by Steven Ertelt
March 21, 2006
Trenton, NJ (LifeNews.com) — New Jersey lawmakers have clarified some of the language in the state’s stem cell research bill but a final vote on the measure must wait until after the legislature’s budget recess. The measure would borrow millions in taxpayer funds to build new facilities that would engage in embryonic stem cell research pro-life groups oppose.
The House and Senate have two different versions of the bill and the Senate made technical changes to its version on Monday. Lawmakers approved the changes on a 23-14 vote.
"What’s now clarified is that the facility will be at Rutgers," state Sen. Wayne Bryant, a Democrat, told the Asbury Park Press newspaper.
That means the stem cell institute planned for the southern part of the state will be located at the Rutgers-Camden campus. Two other facilities will be built in New Brunswick and at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark.
Despite the changes, one big difference remains. The Senate bill has the state borrowing $250 million while the House measure has it getting $200 million in taxpayer funds. The money in both bills comes from borrowing against expected cigarette taxes.
Assemblyman Neil Cohen, a Democrat who is the House sponsor, told the Asbury newspaper "There are still further discussions to have with the Senate president and with the Governor’s Office."
But some lawmakers will still work to oppose the final version of the bill because they oppose embryonic stem cell research or don’t want the state to borrow so much money during a time of fiscal problems.
Senate Minority Leader Leonard Lance, a Republican, fits in the latter category.
"I’m not discussing the merits of embryonic versus adult stem cells. I want the people to vote on this borrowing," Lance said, according to the APP report.
During hearings on the bills, Dawn Parkot, who has cerebral palsy and several other ailments, told lawmakers that cures shouldn’t be discovered on the back of killing unborn children.
"We don’t have any right to let an unborn baby or child die in order to give a disabled person even an excellent likelihood to get better, let alone fulfill the marginal promise that open-ended stem-cell research offers," Parkot said.
The state’s new governor, pro-abortion Democrat Jon Corzine, backs the embryonic stem cell research bill.
Embryonic stem cell research has yet to cure any patients and has problems with patients’ immune systems rejecting the cells. Pro-life groups favor adult stem cells, which have already produced dozens of treatments for various conditions.